Photographer has work featured in Los Angeles's new Getty Center
Milton Rogovin, M.A. '72, is a nationally recognized documentary photographer whose lens usually focuses on the lives of working men and women and their families. Although he has found subjects around the world, including miners on every continent, he is perhaps best known locally for his portraits of hardworking, everyday Western New Yorkers members of Lackawanna's Yemeni community, storefront evangelical churchgoers on Buffalo's East Side, steelworkers (a series of grand-scale photographs is on view in one of Buffalo's subway stations), and residents of several of the city's West Side neighborhoods.
Now comes word that the Getty Center the vast new art museum located on a 710-acre hilltop overlooking Los Angeles has purchased a total of 83 Rogovin photographs for its permanent collection. Three of Rogovin's well-known triptychs (each triptych consists of three photographs designed to be viewed together) were featured at the museum's opening December 15. In addition, he has been invited to lecture there in the spring on "the making of a social documentary photographer."
"This is very important to me, because this is a very important museum buying my work," Rogovin says. "Up until recently, very few of the museums in this country have owned large quantities of my work. In Europe, it is a quite different matter: The Moderna Museet in Stockholm, for instance, owns 24 of my works; the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris owns about 20."
Rogovin, 87, is a retired optometrist who became serious about photography in 1958. A recipient of the W. Eugene Smith award for humanistic photography, as well as a 1994 honorary degree from the University at Buffalo (where he has been adjunct professor in the American Studies Department since 1978), Rogovin was the subject of a 1993 segment on CBS Sunday Morning with the late Charles Kuralt. He has published several books, including Milton Rogovin: The Forgotten Ones (1985); Portraits in Steel (1993), with oral histories by UB history and American studies professor Michael Frisch; and Triptychs: Buffalo's Lower West Side Revisited (1994).